Marco's Blog

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Logical Fallacies

Fallacy derives from the Latin fallere, meaning to deceive.

Logical fallacies are errors present in the reasoning of the person presenting their thesis. These errors make the reasoning appear rigorous and logical even if it is actually invalid.

Let us clarify that by validity we mean the logical correctness of an argument, i.e. how one moves from an initial argument to logical conclusions. By truth, on the other hand, we refer to the truthfulness of the propositions themselves.

Why is it important to recognize logical fallacies?

Being able to recognize a logical fallacy is very important for two main reasons:

  • Not to commit them ourselves first. Committing this type of reasoning error is very easy and does not always derive from the need to deceive the interlocutor. It could be due to a cognitive bias, our inattention or a lack of adequate context;
  • Not to be deceived. This type of fallacious reasoning can be used to manipulate and persuade us.
Non-exhaustive list

Unfortunately, there are many types and varieties, but I would like to leave you with a small list of the most common ones.

  • causal fallacy: this happens when something that is not a cause is made to appear as a cause of an event. It often happens with two events that occur one after the other. It is therefore believed that the first is the cause of the second without particular evidence;
  • gambler’s fallacy: the tendency to believe that an event is more likely just because something happened before. Pay attention to the difference between independent and dependent events;
  • Straw Man argument: it is a logical fallacy according to which, in a debate, one takes the starting thesis A of the other person and slightly modifies it creating a thesis B, straw man. Generally, the second thesis is a weaker (weak argument) and remodeled version of A. This is done because the newly created B thesis is easier to refute. In reality, in this case, thesis A is never refuted, but only B is discussed.
  • slippery slope: occurs when we believe that if one event occurs, then others with worse consequences will occur. In reality, it is not certain that if A happens then B will happen. B is only one of the possible consequences, perhaps with really low probability.
  • appeal to ridicule: happens when a thesis is ridiculed in the absence of a real refutation;
  • red herring: often happens when an irrelevant argument is inserted to divert from the main one;
  • ad hominem: when the person who made a statement is attacked instead of refuting the statement itself;
  • appeal to the majority: if the majority thinks in a certain way, it must be true. If something is thought by many, it must be taken into account, but for something to be true, it must be verifiable and justified;
  • false dilemma or false dichotomy: when the only two possibilities are those that I arbitrarily cite, without taking into account other possibilities.



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